Explore Plockton with Kiley Dunbar
Spend Summer at the Highland Coral Beach
Explore Plockton with Kiley Dunbar – We all need an escape so why not head to the Scottish Highlands and the GORGEOUS village of Plockton in the Scottish Highlands. Kiley Dunbar has taken it and made it her own, calling it Port Willow and weaving her magic to create a perfect literary location.
My latest romantic novel Summer at the Highland Coral Beach is set in my version of Plockton (I rename it Port Willow) in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. Plockton is a beautiful nineteenth century fishing village overlooking Loch Carron. The sheltered bay has been a tourist hotspot for decades long before it became famous the world over as the setting for TV series Hamish Macbeth.
So, let’s Explore Plockton with Kiley Dunbar….
I visited Plockton in August 2018 and stayed for a glorious week in one of the many holiday rental cottages along the front. It was perfect for flying kites at low tide and clambering aboard the seal watching boat trip from the jetty. Oh, and for eating delicious fish and chips sat on the sea wall.
Plockton is important to me for so many reasons, not only was it the perfect spot for a family holiday (me, my husband, our two kids, granny and grandad and Amos the Bedlington), but it was where my writing career began. Whilst on holiday I received an email from Hera Books. They were asking me to send more chapters from the novel (my first) I was hoping to get published at the time. I remember sitting in the cosy holiday cottage looking out over the water and hitting ‘send’ on the email, praying they’d sign me, which two months later they did!
One of the highlights of our trip was a day spent at the Coral Beach near Plockton. Although it’s in easy walking distance of the village we had the kids, dog, a picnic, fishing nets and all the other stuff you need for a family day at the beach so we drove following directions to a little parking area and set out walking over a very muddy path through gorse and rocks.
The clamber down to the beach, though tricky in parts, was well worth it as we emerged onto a deserted bay overlooking crystal clear, perfectly still water. I kicked my shoes off and immediately regretted it. The ‘coral’ the beach consists of, while looking beautifully golden and glaring in the August sun like tropical sand, is actually made of fossilised and sun-bleached algae –stunning to look at; like razor blades to stand on.
I couldn’t resist the lure of the water and took a dip. Swimming out towards the few sailboats on the horizon I knew that this secluded, magical place would be the perfect setting for a romance novel and the seeds for Summer at the Highland Coral Beach were sown.
In the novel, my characters encounter the cattle that regularly cross through the beach, just as we did (we ended up forced onto the rocks as they barrelled past – and I recreate this scene in the book).
My hero and heroine Atholl and Bea also take a day trip to the Isle of Skye for a picnic by the fairy pools, and we also spent a day’s recce on the island. Driving over the Skye road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to the village of Kyleakin the views were spectacular. I really began to feel how remote we were. East Lothian (where I grew up) and South Cheshire (where I live now) felt a million miles away.
Black Cuillin near Glen Brittle
Once there, we headed straight for the fairy pools at the foot of the magnificent Black Cuillin near Glen Brittle. We parked the car and then headed off on foot following the late summer crowds. Soon, despite the muddy walk, we were amongst the first of the waterfalls and deep, clear pools, perfect for wild swimming.
Not suprisingly, we spent a long time sitting by one pool with little tiered waterfalls running into it. We sat watching for fairies amongst the long grass and wildflowers. I’m fairly sure we caught a glimpse of one.
Other special moments included picking ripe brambles growing in our cottage’s garden to bake a loaf cake, a night listening to folk music and eating locally reared steaks. Then, there was sipping Highland craft ale in a busy pub along the front. We even watched the trains snake alone the coast coming in to Plockton’s little station. Being welcomed like a local at a craft fair and coffee morning at the village hall was also very special.
Needless to say, I have fictionalised a lot of Skye and Plockton. The Princess and the Pea Inn with its towering fairytale bed, the riptide Atholl and Beatrice get caught up in, the craft school above the coral beach, and the Harvest Home ceilidh are all the work of my imagination. I hope I’ve managed to capture the beauty and wild wonder of the area that keep bringing visitors back time and again.
BT: Oh thank you so much Kiley! I’ve been to Plockton many times and remember the Highland Coos I saw there. Happy Days to return in your lovely book!
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Summer at the Highland Coral Beach